-- Rolling Stones (Street Fighting Man)
While the sun in Iraq scorches an already turbulent soil, the heat of election season is being felt back in the good ol’ US of A. Polls are indicting Bush is recovering from a slight dip in his approval rating as his rival John Kerry is flying around the country ignoring the rising US death toll in Iraq. The escalation in casualties, claims Kerry, has little to do with him or any of the other Democrat and has everything to do with George W. Bush. “We need to internationalize the effort [in Iraq],” blasts Kerry, “and put an end to the American occupation!” Remember, he is admitting that the occupation will surely continue, it’ll just be administered with more diversity. Call it the new age of affirmative action.
Kerry isn’t the only Democrat left in the ring however. Dennis Kucinich, although haunted by a dry bank account and scarce media coverage, says he’s still swinging in the fray. But does the featherweight from Ohio have any fight left in him? Ask his faithful supporters and they will inform you that Kucinich’s campaign still matters. He’s antiwar, anti-investor rights agreements (mislabeled free-trade by many), pro-environment, pro-universal health care, and pro-choice (although late coming). Unlike Howard Dean, Kucinich really does represent what the late Paul Wellstone called the, “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”
Nevertheless, Dennis Kucinich has run his campaign without an iota of hope.
It’s not that his supporters haven’t tried hard, they have. In fact they are some of the most committed electoral activists since Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. And it is certainly not that Kucinich himself lacks conviction.
Despite his weak balance on the Wall in Palestine, and his call for a UN backed occupation of Iraq, he is (was) clearly the best Democrat running for president of the United States. But the lack of hope comes from something else entirely. Are you stumped yet?
Well, you must have forgotten, Kucinich is still a Democrat.
That’s right. His insurgent campaign no matter how well intentioned, was always doomed for failure. Sure people acted surprised as Ted Koppel and other moderators all but excluded Kucinich from the primary debates. But come on, who was really stunned by such shenanigans? At this time the only thing stunning is that Kucinich is staying in the hunt until June even though Kerry has already solidified the nomination.
Back in Iowa, when it became apparent that all his toiling had done little to entice locals to vote for him, Kucinich unreservedly threw his weight behind John Edwards of North Carolina. It was most likely a sign of what’s to come as Kucinich withdraws from the presidential race and advices his faithful to follow the lead of John Kerry instead. In fact, the reference to the Rainbow Coalition may truly be fitting, as Kucinich’s progressive cohorts fade back into the Democratic establishment like Jackson’s broad base of activists did back in 1988.
If Kucinich were a true fighter he’d sock the Democrats in the collective chin, join the Green Party, and call it a day. But don’t count on such a heroic clash to break out on the streets of Washington. After all, this is American politics we are talking about, not Falluja -- where the most exciting thing we’ve witnessed from a Democrat in the past year was when an ex-Ku Klux Klan member stood up in the senate and waved his fist at the Bush administration for its illegal war on Iraq.
And they wonder why they keep losing elections. If Kucinich really wants to come out a winner after all is said and done, he better switch sides as soon as possible. Otherwise he’ll just end up a loser like the rest of his fellow Donkeys.
It's the last round Dennis. You need a knock out. Better go down swinging.
Josh Frank is author of a forthcoming book on the Left and the 2004 election. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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